Lawyer Monthly - January 2024

Melissa Donovan WWW.LAWYER-MONTHLY.COM 5 reasonable, we all have the right to privacy and self-determination. It is quite common that in trying to help our elderly parents, relatives and friends, we tend to overtake their wishes in doing what we feel is best for them. It is important for care-takers and family to understand that our elderly loved ones have the right to make their own decisions, even if we do disagree with them. In our roles as caretakers and personal representatives, it is important that we are always openly communicating with the person we are helping, including them in decision making, and not keeping information from them as much as it is possible to do so. As I tell many clients, your job as a Medical Power of Attorney, is not to do what you would do for yourself, but to do what the principal would generally choose for himself or herself. These additional protections guide personal representatives and family in how we should be assisting seniors. What does elder law planning cover and what are the benefits of elder law planning? Elder Law encompasses many things, including general estate planning, incapacity and long-term care planning, Texas law provides additional rights for citizens aged 60 and over. What are those rights and why were they introduced? Here in Texas, there are many benefits accessible to individuals over 60. These include additional property tax exemptions, discounts on utility bills, reduced vehicle registration costs, help with prescription drug costs, rides to doctor visits and meal delivery. Here in Texas, we have 28 local Area Agencies on Aging which provide assistance and counselling for individuals over the age of 65 and their families on locating and accessing these community services. They also advise seniors on in-home support services, care coordination, and respite services. These area agencies are invaluable to the community. Further, Section 102.003 of the TX Human Resources Code lays out additional protection for seniors. This includes rights to dignity & respect, the right to designate Guardians and to be free from abuse. All of this goes to the protection of a statistically vulnerable population and the general assertion that regardless of age or potential disability, as much as is Melissa Donovan is a Certified Elder Law Attorney and the Director of Elder Law and Special Needs Planning at Texas Trust Law. A frequent speaker at professional conferences for advisors on legal issues related to special needs planning, Medicaid, Medicare, and long-term care planning, Melissa focuses her practice on estate planning, special needs planning and Elder Law. An Interview with... Navigating Texas Trust and Elder Law

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